“My only complaint about Quest For The Hidden City is how everything works out and everyone lives happily ever after as opposed to the real nightmare that is the Path of Deceit,” says Max Nocerino
Star Wars: Quest for the Hidden City is the first middle-grade reader for The High Republic Phase 2. It is penned by the very talented George Mann, who has a knack for stories within stories as he wrote Dark Legends and Myths and Fables which are collections of tales within the Star Wars universe, in-universe. I was very confident he would do well when he transitioned to a narrative, and I was mostly right.
Quest for the Hidden City has endearing characters. And shows a tale that is much “brighter” than the YA novel Path of Deceit which is connected with a character and a timeframe. We go back 150 years before Phase 1, and hyperspace prospectors are just starting to chart the stars for habitable worlds. We get the first-hand account from a prospector and his son. And the B (or A; depending on your point of view) plot is the prospector Spence Leffbruk and his son Dass.
They find themselves stranded in a hostile world. And we get a very charming “Stranded on a desert island” survival story, as Dass and Spence must hunt for food, build a shelter, and piece together a survival beacon to call for help. AND stay out of the path of some terrifying monsters. Sounds just peachy! Spence is the kind of father any kid would want as he loves Dass dearly and is very proud of him. He also does not have a temper when Dass does things that may be foolish, and that is always a plus.
The reason they are stranded links up with Path of Deceit quite well, without becoming too enmeshed in the plot which I like. POD had the Jedi team of Zallah Macri and her apprentice, Kevmo Zink. Now we are introduced to a Jedi pair working directly with the Pathfinders, Silandra Sho and her padawan Rooper Nitrani. It is an interesting contrast dynamic between Silandro and Rooper compared to Zallah and Kevmo. Zallah was very serious, a trait that she and Silandra shared. BUT, Silandra very much deferred to her Padawan as the girl had an innate ability to see the Force as colors (perhaps synthaesia?). And Silandra often trusted her sharp force senses to make decisions.
I also feel she is far more balanced than Kevmo with her emotions and her maturity, while Zallah was always reminding Kevmo to be mindful. The mission they find themselves on is that another Pathfinder team vanished on the planet Aubadas and they were sent to investigate. Rooper wants adventures on the frontier, however, and finds herself disappointed that her Master takes things so slowly. Yet, she is a good padawan and always follows Silandra. Rooper wants adventure, and of, if Master Yoda found out. He would fix her wagon. Heh, adventure. Heh, excitement. A Jedi craves not these things.
Anyway, Aubadas is one of two binary planets, and its sister Gloam is dark, cloudy, and reportedly full of monsters. Most adults reading this book will immediately bridge the two stories. But for a kid, it’s possible they may not catch on at first. Yet that is the great thing about reading at a young age. You learn as you go.
When the Jedi team gets to Aubadas, Roopers sharp senses lead them to the native inhabitants. The bat-like Katikoot. The Katikoot have an advanced subterranean city and lots of modern techs. But they rely heavily on fossil fuels, and the centuries of reliance on them have ruined Gloam and sickened many Katikoot miners. The Katikoot need the Republic to help them find a cleaner energy source. This is very reminiscent of what is happening here on Earth as fossil fuels have altered our climate, and we are transitioning to clean power as well.
Mann must be a heavy climate-change supporter, and I think it’s cool that he put it in a novel that can teach kids through fiction. The Republic offers solar power. But some of the questions I have are: If the Katikoot are so advanced, why don’t they have solar technology? It isn’t advanced at all. We are doing it now on Earth. Also, why would the Republic give them solar when fusion is a much better alternative? Who knows. I have to accept that Star Wars does not always follow the “rules” of sci-fi science.
My only complaint about this book is honestly, how everything works out and everyone lives happily ever after as opposed to the realistic dark nightmare that is the Path of Deceit. Yes, yes, I know this book is for kids. But Star Wars has always been for kids, and yes people DID die in the Original Trilogy. My headcanon is that like in life. We have scenarios that produce happy endings and those that end in tragedy. Silandra was an excellent mentor throughout and I was happy with Rooper’s character development. She grows as a Jedi and I feel that she is someone I would very much like if I met her.
This batch of The High Republic Jedi Knights is MUCH better than Phase 1 variants. And you wonder if the Order had started to rot away IN Phase 1, and Phase II is the true golden age of the Jedi. The Jedi of The High Republic Phase 1 are very hypocritical and don’t follow their own tenets. Elzar Mann is a catastrophe, but more on him another time.
Anyway, I enjoyed this little adventure greatly, and my only gripe is that it was a bit on the optimistic side. But then again, after Deceit, anything would be more positive. Hats off to George Mann. He is currently writing a Star Wars: Insider story which I will finish reviewing in the coming weeks. A solid 6 out of 10 Death Stars for Quest.
Star Wars: The High Republic – Quest for the Hidden City is available to pre-order now. The book will be hitting shelves on November 1, 2022. So grab your lightsaber and set off for the galaxy far, far away…
Max Nocerino is a regular Staff Writer for The Future of the Force. He is a passionate Star Wars fan and loves the literature of the galaxy far, far away. Follow him on Twitter where he shares his love of the Force frequently!